Middlesbrough v QPR - Preview
The R's make the long journey up north to Teeside to play this season's biggest underachievers Middlesbrough. Neil Warnock's men haven't lost in the league since New Years Day and will be looking to continue that run.
After starting the season poorly, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson replaced the struggling Gordon Strachan with Tony Mowbray. Mowbray to an extent picked up where Strachan left off, although in recent weeks the former West Brom boss has managed to string a few wins together, three in their last six.
Middlesbrough have a nucleus of a very good Championship side and with a manager like Mowbray, who tries to get his teams play nice football, I see them finishing the season strongly, although, in terms of success, this season is certainly a write off. I can't see them getting relegated, but a strong finish to this campaign will stand them in good stead for next season.
Neil Warnock made a bold decision against Ipswich by replacing his two first choice centre backs, but to Warnock's credit, the decision proved to be a masterstroke. Danny Shittu was imperious at the back and was clearly ecstatic to be wearing the blue and white hoops again. Fitz Hall was also very impressive at the back and his long throw added an extra attacking threat. Warnock will most likely stick to the same side that beat Ipswich on Tuesday.
QPR 2 (Hill 77, Helguson 83)
Team: Paddy Kenny, Bradley Orr, Clint Hill, Danny Shittu (Matt Connolly 89), Fitz Hall, Shaun Derry, Alejandro Faurlín, Ishmael Miller (Ákos Buzsáky 75), Adel Taarabt, Wayne Routledge, Heidar Helguson
Millwall 2 (Harris 15, Bouazza 78)
Middlesbrough 3 (McMahon 58, McDonald 62, Lita 83)
Team: Jason Steele, Andrew Davies, Jonathan Grounds, Seb Hines, Andrew Taylor, Joe Bennett, Tony McMahon, Nicky Bailey, Julio Arca (Merouane Zemmama 57), Scott McDonald (Richard Smallwood 89), Leroy Lita
Middlesbrough Team News:
Defender Stephen McManus is out, as are midfielders Willo Flood and Kevin Thomson. Goalkeeper Danny Coyne and Defender Matthew Bates also miss out.
Experienced midfielder Barry Robson is fit for selection having recovered from a hamstring injury.
Davies - Grounds - Hines - Bennett
Kink - Robson - Bailey - Arca
McDonald - Lita
Player to watch: Scott McDonald
Scott McDonald has been identified by DanielQPR as the player to watch ahead of this week's match against Middlesbrough.
For Daniel's comprehensive review of the striker Click Here >>>
QPR Team News:
Hogan Ephraim returns to squad after serving a three-match suspension. Ephraim could replace Ishmael Miller, depending on the powerful striker`s fitness. Whether Warnock will want to throw Hogan straight into the side is fairly unlikely.
Akos Buzsaky continues to get minutes under his belt with another cameo performance, this time against Ipswich. The Hungarian looked very sharp and will be vying for a starting position on Saturday.
Patrick Agyemang, Jamie Mackie and Peter Ramage remain sidelined. Tommy Smith is also out.
Possible line up:
Orr - Hall - Shittu - Hill
Faurlin - Derry
Routledge - Taarabt (c) - Miller
Player to watch: Heidar Helguson
Since his recent spell on the sidelines Heider Helguson has hit two goals in as many games. R's boss Neil Warnock will no doubt be delighted with the Iceman`s impact as Rob Hulse has repeatedly misfired this season. In my opinion, Helguson is our best striker. His work-rate is second to none and his hold-up play is intrinsic to how we function going forward. With him in our side we look a lot more potent and he can be forgiven if he does miss the occasional sitter because at the moment, he is finding the back of the net.
Match Facts & Stats
Queens Park Rangers: WWDDW
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 14
LAST TIME OUT
Coca Cola Championship - 11/09/2010
QPR 3 (Helguson 49pen, Ephraim 53, Mackie 59)
Team: Paddy Kenny, Bradley Orr (Peter Ramage 69), Kaspars Gorkss, Matt Connolly, Clint Hill, Alejandro Faurlín, Shaun Derry, Adel Taarabt (Ákos Buzsáky 70), Hogan Ephraim, Heidar Helguson, Jamie Mackie (Tommy Smith 80)
Referee: Mr K Stroud
Assistants: Mr D Street & Mr J Tyas
Fourth Official: Mr G Hart
Keith Stroud is the match official for Saturday's game and has officiated 22 games this season. His most recent game was the match between Coventry City and Swansea.
Last season Stroud issued 108 yellow cards and 10 red cards in 27 games.
The Riverside Stadium hasn`t been the most atmospheric of grounds in recent years and I feel this will benefit the R's, as it won't be as intimidating as say somewhere like Elland Road. I expect us to be responsible defensively and very well organised, hitting Middlesbrough on the counter attack. We will look to utilise the pace of Wayne Routledge and possibly Ishmael Miller. The return of Hogan Ephraim could be important, as he could be useful impact player in the last twenty minutes. I'd like to see Akos Buzsaky start because like Adel Taarabt, he can produce a moment of magic out of nowhere.
Rangers haven't been as dangerous on the road as they are on their own patch therefore I expect a draw to be the most likely outcome. Middlesbrough certainly have a goal or two in them, Leroy Lita loves a goal against the R's, so I wouldn't put it past him scoring. However, based on our match against Ipswich, I'm more than confident in Danny Shittu and Fitz Hall's ability to keep Lita and McDonald quiet. If Rangers get the first goal, then I think we will shut up shop and go on to win the match.
0-1 Away win. Helguson to score in his third consecutive match.
Who: LEICESTER CITY
Where: LOFTUS ROAD
When: 05/03/2011 - 15.00